Where Trouble Sleeps, by Clyde Edgerton

Listre, North Carolina, exists only in the mind of Clyde Edgerton, but the conversation there is as real as any you’d hear at a bait shop or diner. And Edgerton’s delivery is wickedly funny. His narration is concise and spare; his plots move primarily through his characters’ words and thoughts.

Listre’s citizenry first appeared in Walking Across Egypt, a rich novel with a deceptively breezy tone. Egypt introduced us to Mattie Rigsbee, a guileless 78-year-old churchgoer who takes the Bible literally--even the parts that other literalists take metaphorically, like “whatever you do to the least of these my brethren, you do for me.” She takes this verse to heart when she meets Wesley Benfield, a teenage delinquent who tries to rob her and whom she tries to reform with some grandmotherly love. Edgerton is wry and unsentimental, yet sympathetic.

 

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